An innovative medical procedure should be a breath of fresh air for emphysema patients who battle to breathe.
Emphysema is often caused by smoking.
The condition is difficult to treat.
The procedure returns the lungs’ elasticity without the need for major surgery.
The lung volume reduction coil, which increases the elasticity of lungs by inserting a number of tiny coils, not only opens the narrow airways but improves the lungs’ capacity and contraction, allowing patients to breathe normally.
Doctors who pioneered the procedure at Panorama Medi-clinic, in Cape Town, for the first time in South Africa, and arguably on the continent, said the procedure brought hope for difficult-to-treat patients who had tried other conventional treatments without success.
In emphysema, tiny air sacs in the lungs become scarred and lose their elasticity, resulting in chronic shortness of breath.
In a public-private partnership Dr Johan Theron, a pulmonologist at that hospital, and Professor Coenie Koegelenberg, a respiratory medicine specialist from Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Hospital, have performed the procedure on two patients since September.
Done as a minimally invasive surgery under anaesthetic, the procedure takes about an hour and its effectiveness on lung function can be tested within a day.